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[80] send dispatches near a house on the right side of the road, when Osterhaus, coming back, told me before he dismounted that he could get no farther, as the enemy was too strong on the other side. I told him that that was no way to talk, but to keep deploying his skirmishers up and down the river until he got no return fire, and report.

He soon returned and assured me that he found no enemy a few hundred yards up the river. I then instructed him to send in a brigade with the canvas boats, already put together, and push over the men rapidly into the clearings beyond, then come down the river and take the enemy in the flank. Of this movement Wayne reported: “The enemy have driven us back from the cross bridge, three heavy columns are across the river, and they have possession of Ball's Ferry, below here. . . . To save the men I will retire.”

This Oconee crossing was the most difficult that we had to encounter, though the forces in our front continued to enlarge as we proceeded from place to place. The Confederate garrisons fell back, and reenforcements kept coming forward from Savannah. The Confederate general then in charge of a geographical division, Braxton Bragg, peremptorily ordered Wheeler with his cavalry and some artillery to stick close to us; to harass us in front and flank, and, above all, to destroy subsistence and forage in the route over which we advanced.

Some 5,000 Confederates fell back from Sandersville before Sherman arrived. At that point, the 25th, Sherman himself accompanied my left corps on the eastern bank of the Ogeechee, while I followed the one or the other of my two columns on the right bank,

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